Title: Grain of Sand (previously "Glass")
Author: Jesse
Contact:
Rated: PG-13 (14A for us Canadians)
Archive: Ask me, and I might say yes, if yer lucky
Disclaimer: Yada yada Paramount, blah blah not mine, yak yak don't sue, yadder yadder no money.
Comments: Give me your freakin' comments, you bloody lazy people! You think I do this for my health?!? ;)

******************************************************

"Leave now, Doctor. I must finish this."

"You don't have to finish it, Seven. We can't stay in here any longer. The bulkhead is going to collapse!"

"Then you should leave before it does." she stated, calmly. She looked at him, a hard look in her eyes.

The Doctor stared, concerned. "No," he said, "We are both leaving."

Seven glared at the Doctor. Her voice took on an urgent, desperate tone. "You must leave now, Doctor, before it is too late." Her eyes were demanding, and wide with anxiety. "Go!"

"Take my hand." the doctor said, quietly.

Seven turned, "No!" she said, angrily. "I can save the information!"

"I'm not leaving without you!!" yelled the Doctor as he reached for her hand.

Seven paused for several seconds, looking at him. His eyes begged for her to come with him. Her resistance melted and she chose the most logical choice.

Seven turned and took the Doctor's hand. He pulled her across the platform and they both ran towards the Transporter Room. Sparks flew behind them, as computer consoles exploded. A loud noise echoed through the ship, and a small ceiling beam fell from above. Seven fell back, unconscious from the blow.

"Seven!" cried the Doctor. He knelt down and placed his fingers on her throat, feeling for her pulse. A wave of relief swept over him as he felt the strong beat.

The Doctor lifted her body and carried her to the transporter. He looked over the controls. He couldn't find Voyager. A mangled groan from inside the ship warned him of the impending crash. He scanned for a nearby planet. Finding one, he energized the transporter, beaming himself and Seven off the dying ship.

******************************************

They materialized in a dark cave, rocky and quiet. Gently, the Doctor laid Seven on the ground.

"Seven," spoke the Doctor, "Seven, can you hear me?" He softly patted her cheek.

Seven awoke with a groan. Her eyes slowly fluttered open. "What has happened?" she asked.

"You were hurt. How do you feel?"

"I am uncertain. Am I damaged?"

"Yes," replied the Doctor, sadly, "But not badly. You'll have quite a bruise on your forehead, but you'll be alright."

Seven sat up and looked around. "Where are we?" she asked, cautiously touching her sore bruise.

The Doctor glanced around. "I beamed us to the nearest planet. Voyager was out of range. I'm not sure where we are, exactly." The Doctor gave her a small smile.

Seven stood up, the Doctor at her side, steadying her. "We must contact Voyager," she stated.

"How do you suggest we do that?" asked the Doctor, with a hint of playful sarcasm.

"I don't know," said Seven. "First we must find our way out of this cavern. Surely Voyager will come looking for us. We must be on the surface if they are to find us."

The Doctor looked at her. She wasn't sure of herself, he could tell. He decided it would be best if he put on a solid front, just as she was doing. She would need some support.

Seven turned her face towards him. She was dirty, and her hair was falling out of place, but she still had that look of intense determination she always had. The Doctor smiled broadly.

"Let's go," he said.

**************************************************

After several hours of trudging through caverns and caves, the Doctor and Seven of Nine came to an opening, which lead to a clearing. It was green and blue and beautiful. A flowing river cut quietly through a thick of flowers. Mountains carried a glaze in the distance.

"Ah, sunshine!" exclaimed the Doctor.

Seven took a long, deep breath. "We must wait here for Voyager."

The EMH looked at her wistfully, "Oh, Seven. Look around you. It's beautiful here. Can't you get Voyager off your mind for a few moments?"

Seven glared at him, "Yes, I can. But we are deserted. We must do our best to make sure Voyager finds us."

"Well, there's not much we can do but wait here, right? So let's enjoy the scenery."

Seven just rolled her eyes.

**************************************************

The Doctor padded down the soft hill towards the river. He suspected Seven was trailing behind him, but he wouldn't look back to be sure. Attitude matters, especially under these conditions. They may be lost on a beautiful planet, but they were still lost. He knew that. And he knew that Seven would need him to be strong for her. She wasn't very good at being alone.

Seven watched as her friend began wandering towards the water. An instinctual feeling took over her stomach - she was afraid to let the doctor out of her sight. Slightly perturbed, she slowly began following the doctor on his descent.

The Borg caught up to the hologram a few minutes later. He was sitting quietly on a mute gray rock overlooking a small waterfall.

"Doctor..," Seven began.

"Seven," he interrupted, "Come sit here beside me."

Seven obliged, and turned towards the Doctor, waiting questioningly for what he was going to say.

The Doctor turned to face her, mouth open. Looking at her dirty and bruised face, he stopped. Holding up one finger and without saying a word, he got up off the rock and knelt down towards the river. He slipped his sleeve into the cold water, drenching the fabric. He then came towards Seven, sat beside her, and carefully took her face in his hand.

"Hold still," he whispered.

Softly, he moved his wet sleeve over her face, wiping off the black smudges, and quieting the bruise on her forehead. He tapped gently across her entire face.

Seven sat very, very still. A chill ran down her back and her legs. She assumed it was from the cold water.

Holding Seven's chin in his hand, he tried to clean some of the dirt out of her hair.

She gazed into his eyes. She was most curious as to what she was feeling. The moment, the acts, felt tense.

"Doc...," she choked back the words, surprised, "Doctor, I believe it is not necessary to clean my hair."

The EMH looked down into her wide, blue eyes. "Just trying to fix you up a bit," he smiled.

"I am fine, thankyou."

The Doctor, upon realization that he was still holding her face, took his hands away and wrung out his wet sleeve. "You are quite welcome, Seven. Always a pleasure." He gave a grin for good measure.

Seven looked away and grimaced, suddenly feeling a bit of pain. Her head began to silently throb, and she wasn't sure why. She touched her fingers to her bruise.

"Does it hurt?" asked the Doctor.

Seven winced and nodded, "a little."

"Well, you did hit your head quite hard," he said with concern, "I suspect you'll have a slight headache for a while. But I know what will make it feel a little better."

"What?" she asked.

Taking that as an open invitation, the Doctor rose slightly and gave a soft kiss to the bruise on her forehead.

Taken aback, Seven asked, "Why did you do that?"

Smiling, he said, "A kiss to make the pain go away." At her wondering look, he explained, "An old Earth custom. Mr. Paris had suggested it on occasion."

"Perhaps you should have kissed him. Then maybe he would've gone away."

The Doctor grinned, amusement in his eyes, "Well, you certainly sound like you're feeling better. Perhaps my kiss worked?"

Seven rose an eyebrow, and spoke slowly, "Perhaps it did."

********************************************

Day passed into night as the Doctor and Seven of Nine waited for Voyager to come for them.

Seven had managed to start a fire underneath a small overhanging cliff. She concluded they would be safe for the night in the minimal shelter. But the air was cool and wet, and Seven was certainly not dressed for such temperatures. Standing at the fire, she shivered slightly and began massaging her arms.

"Are you cold, Seven?" asked the Doctor.

Seven glanced through the orange flames at the Doctor, who had seated himself on the dirt floor.

"I will adjust."

He looked at her with a frown. "You are mind-numbingly stubborn, Seven."

The Doctor got up and walked over behind the ex-Borg.

"Let me try to warm you up."

"No," she said, a little more harshly than she intended.

He knew she was very uncomfortable, and a little scared. Voyager hadn't found them yet, despite Seven's assurances that they would have. But he didn't want to push her. Confused as he was, he knew that Seven was cold and he could help her keep warm. Medically, helping her even if she didn't want it was the right thing to do.

The Doctor quietly moved up close behind Seven and wrapped his arms around her.

Startled out of the fire's daze, Seven jumped and then froze.

"What are you doing?" she asked, trembling

"I'm trying to keep you warm. Don't tell me you're not. I can feel your chill."

"The fire will warm me." she stated, without moving.

"Seven, if this close contact makes you uncomfortable, I will move away. But I am only trying to keep you from freezing. I generate heat, just as you do. If you're close to me, you'll be warmer."

Seven let out a deep, held breath. She was taking her frustrations out on the Doctor. She was agitated, and the close quarters did not help matters. At first, anyways. She had to admit to herself that the cold was bothering her, and the Doctor's close presence was not an uncomfortable one.

"I apologize, Doctor," she said in her most formal tone, "I have been rude. You are only trying to help. But...this position is slightly awkward. Perhaps we could adjust it."

The Doctor readily agreed, "Of course, Seven. Whatever is most comfortable for you."

She glanced nervously around, "We could sit there," she said, pointing to a sandy area up against a few rocks.

"Alright," said the Doctor.

Both hesitated momentarily before Seven took the lead and plopped herself down on the ground, leaning up against the smooth rocks.

The Doctor forced a smile and sat down beside her. Not a word was spoken as he very slowly lifted his arm and put it around Seven's shoulders and pulled her inward. After a brief uneasiness, Seven silently laid her head on the Doctor's shoulder. It wasn't long before Seven relaxed fully and fell into a deep, quiet sleep. Listening to her breath, the Doctor placed a gentle kiss upon her soft, golden hair.

*************************************************

Seven awoke the next morning to a dewey, brilliant day. She rose yawning, and shook the sand out of her hair. She looked around. The Doctor was nowhere in sight.

"Doctor?" she called. No answer.

Seven began to worry. The Doctor would not leave her alone like this.

She walked out through the tall grass, looking pensively around.

Just then she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned, and there was the Doctor, holding a bouquet of freshly-picked wildflowers.

"For you," he said, gazing into her eyes.

"Thankyou, Doctor," she whispered.

"Do you like them?" he asked, as he handed them to her.

She looked up at him, "Yes, they are beautiful." She felt a nervous twinge in her stomach, and an unusually high level of anticipation.

The Doctor stepped closer and raised his hand to her pale cheek.

"Not as beautiful as you are, Seven," he spoke her name with an intense huskiness.

Seven felt a hot blush rise to her cheeks. The Doctor brought his other hand up to her and cupped her face. Her eyes went wide as the Doctor leaned in...

Just before the Doctor's lips came to hers, he slowly spoke her name, "Seven....."

"....Seven," said the Doctor.

Seven of Nine awoke with a low groan, then snapped her eyes open.

"Doctor?" she gasped.

"It's alright, Seven. You were dreaming."

"Dreaming?" she fluttered her eyelids to adjust to the light.

"It must've been quite a dream, too," said the Doctor with a gleam in his eye, and a hint of curiousity, "Care to tell me about it?"

Seven fumbled standing up, caught her balance, and brushed the sand off her catsuit.

"No." she stated outright, without lifting her face to the Doctor's.

"Alright," he said, half-haltingly, then decided to change the subject, "Are you hungry, Seven?" he asked, enthused, "I found a berry bush. I believe these are edible."

The Doctor held up a handful of small, dark cranberry-colored berries.

"I am not hungry." she said, flatly.

He furrowed his brow, "Seven, you have to eat."

"I will eat later," she stated, and walked away.

The Doctor watched her, concerned. Seven was reverting back to being anti-social. With him. His mood shifted considerably. She hadn't even looked him in the eye.

He turned and began picking up some of the berries he had dropped when all of a sudden all he saw was black. It lasted only a second, but he knew immediately that something was wrong with his program. He tensed, and looked at his mobile emitter. Anxiously, the Doctor turned and ran after Seven of Nine.

*************************************************

Seven walked down to the glassy river and stood at the edge of the bank. Her dream had scared her incredibly. She didn't know what it meant, what it could mean. She crossed her arms and sighed. Looking deep into the water she suddenly realized how she had responded to the doctor when she had awoke. She was brash, rude. A guilt overcame her. These emotions were new for her - she had not felt them before. And she was unsure of how to handle them. She knew she had a habit of forcing them back, pushing them far down into herself. She would never allow herself to lose control, or to become vulnerable. And when she was around the Doctor, she felt vulnerable.

Seven frowned. She could admit she cared for the Doctor, but something stopped her from looking further into it. She thought back to her last birthday. The events on the turbolift that evening had led her to consider some things she had never thought about before. Things about the Doctor. Her mind wandered, and she winced. She concluded this was not the right time to be thinking about this. They were lost, and that was to be foremost on her mind. But her head kept spinning with other ideas. She could not clear it.

"Seven!"

Startled, Seven turned to see the Doctor coming towards her. She stood stiffly, awaiting him.

"Seven," said the Doctor as he got closer, "Seven, there's something wrong."

A wave of fear washed over her. "What is it?"

"My program. The mobile emitter," he wasn't sure what else to say.

Seven understood him immediately. "Let me examine it," she said.

The Doctor held his arm up. Without any tools, Seven had a difficult time figuring out what was wrong. She was smart, but she wasn't used to 29th Century technology. She slowly realized she could be of no help.

She raised her face to the Doctor's, and looked at him soulfully. "I am unable to fix it. I don't know what to do."

The Doctor stared. He moved away and let out a breath.

"Seven," he asked, "Are you upset with me?"

Confused, Seven asked, "Upset?"

"I want to know. Did I do something to hurt you? You seemed to be angry with me this morning." He was concerned. He didn't know why she had left him as she did.

"I am not upset with you," she said, quietly. "And you have done nothing to hurt me. It is I who have hurt you. I acted inappropriately. I am sorry."

The Doctor's face softened. He gave her a little smile, "It's alright, Seven. No hard feelings."

She smiled slightly.

"I want you to know, though," he continued, "that I'm here for you. I need you to know that. We're in this together." He walked up to her and placed his hands on her shoulders.

Seven's smile faded, "Doctor, I....."

Just then the Doctor's program fizzled. Seven's eyes went wide.

"Doctor!"

"It's okay, Seven. You'll be alright."

"No!" she said loudly.

The Doctor's program flickered once more before he vanished and his mobile emitter dropped to the grass.

"No," she whispered. She knelt on the grass and picked up the emitter. Staring at it, she didn't move for hours.

***********************************************

Later that night, as it was getting cold, Seven stood up out of the wet grass and slowly made her way back to the rocks. She sat in the sand, clutching the emitter in her hand, holding it to her chest, as though it were a lifeline. She did not speak, she did not eat. She was alone. Truly alone. And she was very scared. Her mind raced with thoughts and possibilities. She stayed in the sand for days, climbing in and out of sleep, dreaming of the world she had.

Lieutenant Commander Tuvok found her there, in the sand. She was unconscious, and holding tightly onto the Doctor's mobile emitter. Harry brushed her hair back as they waited to be transported to Sickbay.

***********************************************

Seven of Nine awoke quietly to Tom Paris' sparkling blue eyes. He grinned.

"Good morning, Seven. How are you feeling?"

Seven rose up in the bio-bed and looked around.

"Where is the Doctor?" she asked in urgency.

Tom's face fell. He looked at her intensely. "We haven't gotten the Doctor back yet. B'Elanna's working on his emitter in Engineering, trying to fix it."

Seven's lip trembled. "I will help the Lieutenant," she stated firmly, as she began to get out of the bed.

"Hold it, hold it!" Tom said, pushing her back. "You're not going anywhere. Let B'Elanna work on him. You need to rest. I can see from these scans that you haven't eaten in days. We found you unconscious, Seven. You could've gotten hypothermia out there."

Seven glowered at him. "I am fine!" she spat out, "I must help in Engineering!"

"No!"

Tom's words came out loudly. Seven had never heard him yell. She stood silently.

"Listen to me, Seven," he said, more quietly, "There's nothing you can do. They can handle it down there. He would want you to rest. How do you think he'd feel if he found out you were sick because you were worrying about him?" Tom put his hands on her shoulders, "Go to your alcove and regenerate." He looked deep into her sad eyes. "That's an order."

Seven lowered her head in defeat, and headed out Sickbay's doors. She walked quickly to her Cargo Bay. She did not want to speak to anyone.

Entering the Bay doors, she waited until she heard them close. It was then that she gave out a supressed sob.

******************************************

B'Elanna Torres closed her eyes in pain. She tried rubbing the strain out of them.

Harry Kim winced and continued working on a console with the outline of the Doctor's mobile emitter on it. They had been working for two days straight. Everyone was at the end of their rope.

"Dammit!"

B'Elanna looked up, "What is it, Harry?"

Harry regarded her with a look of weariness. "It's this....this....stupid thing!" he spat, motioning at the emitter schematics. "There's nothing wrong with it! Why isn't it working?"

Torres took a deep breath. "I don't know. I don't know." She slumped into a chair.

It was then that Captain Janeway took the opportunity to visit Engineering, Tuvok in tow. B'Elanna didn't even bother getting out of her seat.

"Judging from your looks, I'm guessing that we haven't made any progress," she said calmly.

Harry turned to the Captain. "We've triple-checked every system, doubled the diagnostics....there's nothing wrong with it."

"I see," she said, quietly.

B'Elanna spoke up, "Captain, we just don't know what else to do."

The Captain gave her a solemn, understanding look.

"How's Seven doing?" Harry asked, a little more calmly.

Janeway gave a small smile, "I checked on her just now. She was regenerating."

"Oh."

All stood in silence for several minutes, unsure of what to say. One person broke them out of the quiet.

"I believe I may have found something, sir." said a voice from across the room.

B'Elanna perked up. She rose and ran over to Ensign Vorik on the other side of Engineering. Everyone followed.

"What is it, Vorik?" asked Torres.

The young Vulcan had taken the Doctor's holoemitter apart, and was looking at it under a filter.

"I have found a foreign object embedded in the holomatrix system," he stated flatly. He held up a small, clear dish.

Janeway squinted, and then looked at B'Elanna, and back at the dish. "I don't see anything," she said.

Vorik glanced at her. "It is a small piece of rock. I believe it may be sand."

Torres made a face. "Sand?"

Vorik began to explain. "Yes. It is a resource that has previously been used to manufacture glass...."

She glared at him and interrupted, "I know what sand is, Vorik."

Harry spoke up, "Well, does the emitter work now?"

"Unknown. I will put it back together, and then it can be tested."

Harry rolled his eyes at the small Vulcan, gave out a tired sigh, and went back to his station.

***************************************

"Torres to Seven of Nine"

Seven awoke from her regeneration alcove. She tapped her commbadge. "What is it, Lieutenant?" she asked with a mourning tone.

"Please report to Engineering."

Seven did not want to go. "On my way," she said.

Seven exited the Bay and made her way down the halls, averting her gaze from everyone. She had not dreamt as she slept. She felt tired, listless. She just wanted to remain in her alcove.

She had thought about the Doctor, yet she had not. Deep down inside she knew she was making decisions, but in her mind she was trying to keep occupied. She didn't want to think. She didn't want to feel. She had lost him.

Seven walked into Engineering, and towards B'Elanna.

"You wished to see me, Lieutenant?"

B'Elanna looked up, and for a moment said nothing. She had not seen Seven since Voyager had found them. She did not look well.

"Come here," she said, and began walking. Seven followed.

"Look who we found," said Torres, with a sarcastic flip and smile.

And there he stood. Seven looked at him. B'Elanna began explaining what had been wrong with the emitter, but Seven couldn't hear her. Her legs became numb, her ears heard nothing but a hollow ring. She felt unusually ill.

The Doctor turned to her and smiled. The engineers were still fiddling with the technology on his arm.

Maitain control, she thought. But she couldn't anymore. Seven walked, quickened her gait, and ended up running into the arms of the EMH. She clasped him tightly.

"Well, nice to see you, too, Seven," said the Doctor, slightly taken aback by her emotional response.

Seven held on to the Doctor even tighter. She bit her bottom lip. Her eyes welled slightly with tears.

"I thought I'd lost you," she whispered so only he could hear, her voice shaking a little.

The Doctor closed his eyes and exhaled, shuddering. He relaxed into her. "So did I," he said.

After a few moments, he released his grip on her. Seven separated herself from him slowly. He looked into her eyes and smiled. He noticed her tears. They had not fallen, but they were there. Her eyes were red from holding them back. He regarded her as he would an angel.

Seven inhaled sharply and tried to regain her composure. She allowed herself a smile. Never had she felt so exposed. She looked around. The crew was not watching. They were not there. She surmised they had left to give them some privacy.

"We got home," said the Doctor after a long silence.

"Barely," said Seven, in an almost arrogant tone.

The Doctor smirked. "I hope you took care of yourself while I was gone."

She looked at him with an eyebrow raised. Her posture straightened. "You are not a requirement for my health," she stated.

"Oh really?"

Seven did a second take, and lowered her voice so she could only be heard by him. She pursed her lips and said hesitantly, "I was alone. I am better now."

The Doctor gave a grin, and glanced around.

"Where did everyone go?" he huffed.

"I am uncertain. I believe they left to give us privacy."

"Oh? Well, then, Mr. Paris probably has more than he can handle up in Sickbay. Care to join me?"

He looked at her appreciatively, and held out his hand. She took it after a moment's uncertainty, and they left.